What others have done about road space during Covid-19

A man rides along a newly created bicycle and pedestrian zone in the center of Athens, on June 11, 2020. PHOTO: AFP


Several US cities, including Portland and Oakland, had closed off roads temporarily during the Covid-19 pandemic to help facilitate social distancing among pedestrians, with some even introducing permanent changes.

For example, the mayor of Seattle announced in May that the city will permanently close off about 30km of its roads to almost all vehicle traffic. The selected roads are in areas with little open space, low rates of car ownership and along routes to essential services.

The Seattle Department of Transportation said it wants to build a transport system that enables people of all ages to cycle and walk across the city.


The capital of Greece started on a "Great Walk of Athens" trial in June, under which it will reallocate space on roads from cars to pedestrians and bikes. This will eventually form a route - reported to be 6.8km long - that will run through historical neighbourhoods in the city. It will initially be done through temporary adjustments such as colouring of roads and installing equipment like benches, before permanent changes are made.


London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced in May that a few main streets will be closed off to cars and vans in order to allow people to walk and cycle safely following the easing of lockdown restrictions. He said this would encourage walking and cycling, which would in turn help to reduce crowding on public transport without making people turn to cars.


The Colombian capital opened 76km of temporary cycling lanes earlier this year in order to reduce crowding on public transport to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and also to improve air quality. It also created 22km worth of cycling lanes through the reconfiguring of car lanes.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2020, with the headline What others have done about road space during Covid-19. Subscribe